IDENTITIES

I’m a very laid back person, so I often find myself ‘going with the flow’ more often than not. This kind of personality allows me to get along with all kinds of people and try all kinds of new activities. However, I often admire people who are strong in their own sense of personality and their own identity. In what ways can being opinionated and having a strong personality effect you both positively and negatively? Read on to hear Peer Educator Tina’s thoughts on the matter!

IDENTITIES

by Xinru “Tina” Wang

We here at UCSC often hear people say, ” You have to treat your identity preciously, and at the same time be open-minded towards other people’s differences.” We have always tried to eliminate the contradiction between one another, but at the same time people desire to see their own individual “creative” self. Isn’t this conflicting? To what extent do we express our individual selves and to what extent should we become open to other people?

Talking about one’s choices for their own life, as well as one’s identity, can be extremely complicated. Even more, people’s identities have so many different aspects: gender, race, religion, nationality, etc. In other words, it is fairly likely that at some point you will make someone else uncomfortable without consciously meaning to. It may sound difficult but we are all very educated students here at UCSC! As long as we are knowledgeable about the basic ways of communicating about one’s identities, we can achieve the goal of keeping our own identity safe and sound while respecting others.

First off: try to eliminate first impressions of someone. Forming a first impression is something that we do completely unconsciously — it is just something human beings do to sense possible harm. However, our first impressions can often contain harmful or inaccurate stereotypes. Try to step away from your impression about someone, and try to focus more on their ways of talking and their mind rather than their physical appearance.

Secondly, we should know the limit. Undoubtedly, the essential way of knowing someone is by having conversations and asking questions. Though, there are some questions, or some ways of asking questions, that we should be sensitive of. For example, “how does it feel to be a(n) Asian/Black/White person?” This way would highlight people’s identity forcefully and therefore be an insensitive question to ask.

Finally, it is fairly healthy for us to all look at each others’ personal values, such as our beliefs, talents and abilities. We are all very talented in different fields, and this can be the time for us to appreciate our values as a part of this society instead of our physical appearances.

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